In a lot of period movies the husband & wife are shown to be retiring to different bedrooms at night. e.g. most movies about 1800's Britain or even pre WW-II. Or even War & Peace or Pride & Prejudice. Or The Count of Monte Cristo.

How & when did that change to them sleeping in the same room / same bed? Was the separate room custom only among the nobles & intelligentsia? Or did the commoners sleep in separate rooms too?

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    Hi, welcome to History.SE!
    – Voitcus
    May 19, 2015 at 18:06
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    If you are poor, you can't afford separate beds and bedrooms.
    – Oldcat
    May 19, 2015 at 18:29
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    Your question should probably rather be "When did families start to have dedicated rooms and beds for their children?". In the 19th century there was typically a kitchen/dinning room and a bedroom for the whole family (6 kids was common) (immagine the smell in the morning), exept within the riches of course.
    – Bregalad
    May 19, 2015 at 19:41
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    The question implies that all couples (or most) these days share bedrooms. In all cultures/countries/regions. I'm not sure that this is true. May 19, 2015 at 22:53
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    @curious_cat Let me rephrase: Once again, you seem to assume there was a shift from two bedrooms per couple to one bedroom. Unless you are specifically talking about the upper upper class (in which case you should specify), this assumption is wrong. The reality is rather a shift in the other direction, it's probably more common than ever today to have separate rooms, because more people can afford it. Such a thing as more separate bedrooms wasn't affordable for 99.9% of the people in the 1800s.
    – Bregalad
    May 20, 2015 at 9:07

2 Answers 2


Movies portray people as having separate beds to get around strict censorship laws which were derived from old religious traditions.

In reality, there have been many such movements for and against sleeping together, and it appears to have gone in and out of style through the ages.

  • this pretty much sums it up. +1
    – Himarm
    May 19, 2015 at 20:20
  • I don't think the censorship argument applies because I've seen plenty of modern films that depict the older eras with seperate rooms for him & her. Surely a movie made post 1960 was free from censors so conservative? May 20, 2015 at 6:44
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    @curious_cat a movie post 1960 would try to look familiar to viewers. If all previous films depicted Victorian couples sleeping in different bedrooms, film viewers would have expected that; what's more, possibly most script writers would not know better how life was than from other films (and even if the script writer knew, he was in the show business, not the documentary business).
    – SJuan76
    May 20, 2015 at 7:21
  • @SJuan76 this is very sad, but unfortunately I think it's also correct :(
    – o0'.
    May 20, 2015 at 9:24
  • It actually turned out that the Victorians were incredibly liberal sexually. We're really great at revising history to fit misconceptions. May 20, 2015 at 15:43

The question is different now and requires a new answer. Have you read Jack London's The People of the Abyss? Yes, commoners in England slept in one bedroom, and many of them lived in one room, too.

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    Gangnus, please don't adopt Tyler's predilection: this is so much your opinion, unless you can back it up with sources. Please do so.
    – CGCampbell
    May 27, 2015 at 16:39
  • The whole question is taking on the presumption that some country the author is from is a whole world. I need not to support by references the fact of existence of the outer world. If you need them, it is the problem of your strange community. Look any document film about how usual people live in Africa, in China, in India, in Japan. Or better try to live at least a pair of years there. But the time spent in an european hotel can not be taken into account!
    – Gangnus
    May 28, 2015 at 8:58
  • @CGCampbell youtube.com/watch?v=FQtZ_aKGcdI
    – Gangnus
    May 28, 2015 at 9:16
  • and where do you get your idea that CC means when the majority of people sleep in separate rooms?
    – jwenting
    May 28, 2015 at 10:43
  • @jwenting He is asking when they left the separate bedrooms and started to sleep in shared. But for that they had to sleep in separate ones sometimes. Somebody had seen too much pink films on "high society".
    – Gangnus
    May 28, 2015 at 11:08

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